Biding a Do: Change and Its...Anticipation

Hwæt: I am considering moving

Odin's Aviary

- which since its inception has called Blogger its home - on over to my

refreshed website

. The reasons are various and sensible; the hesitation largely ignorant and nostalgic. Yet I tarry.

This week I performed, and had my writing performed, at

No, You Tell It!

, which was a much-anticipated event on my part that I used as motivation to get certain of my creative goals in order, post-initiation into fatherhood. I try occasionally to set my own deadlines, but they're never as effective as those applied to me by an outside party.

Anyway, as I frenetically revised my personal narrative for April 22nd, I also finally got off my duff to re-engineer my website for April 6th, when the press for the event would start. When I passed around the new website for feedback, the ever-amazing


gave me a laundry list of "suggestions," primary of which was to get the dang


over where I profess to call myself some kind of writer, and

tout de suite


There is an interesting thematic overlap here, of the sort I used to often experience early in my acting career. In those days, I attributed it to rather mysterious, quasi-Jungian synergy - a sign of "following the path." Now-a-days, I tend to think of it as me trying to tell myself something, quietly yet persistently, from the background of the daily struggle and strife. Either way, it is that weird sensation of life imitating art. Or whatever whatever.

I took to the revision of my website as something of a workshop in figuring out what in the hell I'd be doing as a creative person who's prioritized the support of his family over unbounded freedom to act like an actor. I took to the writing assignment for

No, You Tell It!

as a workshop in really going for effective and significant revision of my writing. We were all writing to a theme - in this case: "outdated" - and I ended up writing about becoming a parent, the life cycle of a theatre troupe and the regular yet somehow unpredictable rhythms of life itself.

All of this seems very well-ordered, connected and natural. I assure you: I PLANNED NOTHING. I'M MAKING THIS UP AS I GO ALONG.

As I always have. I need to surprise myself. It's at least to some extent a coping mechanism - aimed against depression, uncertainty, insecurity. There's a tension in my life - between a need for order and a need for surprise - that is mirrored in my writing process. I mean, I


written from an outline before. Usually it's under duress, on threat of torture by 1) a writing partner, and/or 2) an admittedly limited personal capacity for long-term memory. Generally speaking however, what I enjoy about writing is the surprises the process brings me.

It's not dissimilar to improvised comedy. You have an invisible framework - threes, setup/suspension/punchline, what-you-will - and just try to make poking around in the dark as interesting and relevant as possible until you hit on the hilarious. It is all about the moment, and nothing feels quite as like magic as that discovery. It would be a shame to capture it, mold it, distort what is plainly inspiration into something staid and flat and un-prophet-able.

So has gone my internal justification for not working over my own work when it comes to writing. Revision would squelch whatever was special about the original experience. Prove a dishonor to that inspiration. What an incredible excuse.

So how does someone who has it built into his philosophy


to revise, go about revising his life?

Though it seems grandiose to put it that way, it does not feel like an exaggeration. Even if becoming a parent hadn't meant sacrificing certain other creative opportunities, if I had attained a level of fiscal success that allowed me to keep acting up a storm and keep coming home by 5:00, parenthood still necessitates learning how to better order one's life. I laugh, derisively, at my younger self's occasional complaints of a lack of time or occasional boredom. Then I cry just a little bit, inside, before hitching up my (sexy) work slacks and tackling another day.

I did some good work through

No, You Tell It!

, work I'm proud about, toward learning how to effectively step back and revise. And my website looks much better. I count these successes. But: I did not succeed.

I did not succeed because the website, though it is pretty and more functional, still lacks direction - intention - and still emphasizes me as an actor. I did not succeed because my piece for the "outdated" event suffered in similar ways, still written in a voice aggressively eschewing an easy read, and still emphasizing exploration over communication. I still don't know what I'm doing. But I'm on the path, physically and metaphysically, which is sometimes the best you can do.

So there will be more changes coming - revisions, if you will (and whether you will or won't, frankly). Among these:

Odin's Aviary

will be transplanted to live under my moniker, part of the unified-field-theory of Jeff.

Perhaps somehow prescient of this, one of the live interview questions asked of me on stage at

No, You Tell It!

in prelude to my story being presented was about this here 'blog title. I explained about thought and memory, Huginn and Muninn, and how that seemed appropriate for a personal 'blog, without getting into my nigh fetishistic adoration of ravens. One interesting thing I failed to realize until just now, however, is that a primary characteristic of Odin himself is...fatherhood.

There might be something to this "reviewing what we create" after all.

"Inebriate of air am I..."

That's a rather embarrassingly romantic line I copied in my journal right around college, freshman year (1995 or 6), I think. I say I'm embarrassed by it, but it has stuck with me and popped up every now and again, seemingly unbidden, in my memory. I had to look it up again to discover it was Dickinson and -- as though prescient in my "tweet" of yesterday -- remind myself that I didn't come up with it. Yes. I subconsciously tried to purloin Emily Dickinson. In my defense, I'm certain I'm far from the first, and I'm definitively certain I'll not be the last. Miss Dickinson's poem, in its entirety:

I taste a liquor never brewed,

From tankards scooped in pearl;

Not all the vats upon the Rhine

Yield such an alcohol!

Inebriate of air am I,

And debauchee of dew,

Reeling, through endless summer days,

From inns of molten blue.

When landlords turn the drunken bee

Out of the foxglove's door,

When butterflies renounce their drams,

I shall but drink the more!

Till seraphs swing their snowy hats,

And saints to windows run,

To see the little tippler

Leaning against the sun!

Odd to imagine a famous shut-in using inn and pub imagery, drunken bees or no.

The line recurred to me this time because I was thinking about my recent acceptance into the cult of


, and my choice of moniker there: AcroRaven. I hesitated to use it. At first I was trying all different permutations of "Jeff Wills," as it is my brand name as an actor. Alas, I arrived on Twitter too late for such luxuries (I still owe

Expatriate Younce

a big 10-Q for getting me on to Gmail early enough to claim my address there) and I've just never adjusted to the idea of numeral incorporation into naming. Hence, AcroRaven. Right? Of course right.

Of course wrong. Both my embarrassment and my desire to use that name have quite a bit more to them than pragmatic consideration, or mere awkwardness over labeling myself using a species of bird for a site that claims all non-mute birds as its mascot. (Someone needs to get on some flightless bird sites. Cluck-er? Crow-er?) The fact is, I love ravens. And I've never seen one in person. The fact is, I call myself an acrobat. And I still can't stick a one-minute handstand. And the fact is, "AcroRaven" sounds like a really bad superhero, if you can even figure out how to pronounce it, and

that's part of what I love about it.

There. I said it. I made up that name because I love big black birds and acrobatics and seeing myself as a superhero.

The line from Dickinson spoke to me and I isolated it from its original context because it reminded me of how I imagine being a bird would feel. Maybe birds hate flying -- how would I ever know? I find their flight beautiful, however, and it reminds me of breathing deep and loving it. Exhilaration. There's a lot that feeds into my appreciation of birds, and ravens in particular, but suffice it to say that it's an animal that has come to symbolize for me my aspirations, turning my vision of who I could be into who I am. I may never be a bird, or renowned acrobat, or a superhero (in fact, the more I examine the reality of vigilantism, the less appealing it becomes, super-powered or no) yet a few years ago I never imagined I would know how to lift people to my shoulder, or have friends in Italy. These things came about because I can identify with the possibilities my dreams present.

Part of what finally launched me into the Twitter-sphere was a possible collaboration with a good, old friend of mine (one who dates back to my days of first admiring those crows that are the closest things to ravens Burke, Virginia has to offer). We're talking about creating a performance rooted in the ideas -- and maybe even the devices -- that allow us to have a creative collaboration in close-to-real time between East Coast and West, so naturally Twitter came up. As with any collaborative effort, not to mention plenty of the solo ones, it's difficult to say if anything will result from it. All the same, I'm looking forward to throwing those ideas out there, across the atmosphere, to see what sinks and what flies. Inebriates of air, aren't we all?

Notions (Part 2 of ?)

Friend Davey

responded in some detail to a post of mine from earlier this week:

"When you first mentioned Punch and Judy in your blog, I imagined it as
giant oversize puppets looming over you and Heather. I think I even
so far as to describe it like that to a friend of mine. So when later,
posted about P&J and then about Stilt costuming insects later, I was
confused, b/c in my head you had already mentioned doing Punch as giant
puppets, why split them up! So I had to re-read and
understand that
somehow I had added the giant puppets into the mix. What is
Patrick's Sukeu
mask?I saw your sister this weekend and she told me that her
biggest shock was
seeing you come out playing the Trombone. I can't
believe I missed it. The
clown film is ambitious, and ultimately sounds the
most... you I guess.
The most all around you. You've lived in the city
for the better part of your
adult life. It's about time you made it a
thank you card you ungrateful
bastard :P Seriously though, I think the clown
film would be an amazing
piece. Planning on staying in one clown for
the duration will be
challenging no? Does he go back to boring drab at
the end, or does he find
the rest of his troupe?"

All excellent, thought-provoking responses, Davey (even without the bizarre poetic structure Blogger decided to enact upon it), and I thank you and encourage everyone who's interested to chime in on these things. I've been giving a lot of thought to the subject of collaboration lately. So much so, it may be a good new topic heading. Now, if that isn't momentous, I don't know what is.

And I admit: I probably


know what is.

The Punch & Judy thing is in such early stages of development that it's hard to say just what it will be. It's entirely possible that it would--at least at some point--involve Heather and I dressing in enormous P&J puppets, like you see in the NYC Halloween Parade. However, I'm more interested in keeping it simple to begin with, and exploring the characters and situations associated not only with the story itself, but the history of its audiences as well. I mean, we were watching Punch and Judy from an early age. It's just that

Mister Rogers

made them be nice to one another.

Years ago

Friend Patrick

, who is a brilliant mask maker and actor, made me a mask styled after discussions we'd had and named after the alter ego Friend Davey bestowed upon me in high school. It's very raven-like, with a rather long, stout beak and round eyes and for years now I've only played with it in private, experimenting and trying to allow, rather than force, what that character wants to be.

The clown film (working title:

Red Signal

) is ambitious indeed, particularly given that I know virtually nothing about film making and have no budget even for my day-to-day life, much less for a film. Still, for a couple of years now I've been mulling over the possibilities for making a sort of digital video demo of the piece, and Davey's questions help to move it along. No, it would not be hard to stay in the same clown the whole time. I'd have to chart out his progress to keep it all organized in my mind while filming non chronologically, but it would be essentially my personal clown character, and that's not hard for me to access or stay in. Now, as for the end: Good bloody question. I never thought he'd go back to drab completely, but it's a possibility. I also never even considered that he might find his "troupe." I got locked into thinking of it as a love story with a girl/city, but maybe it could be different.

Also, a couple of other things tickling my fancy (which is illegal in some states):

  • Directing now, as an adult, a short play I tried to direct toward the end of college: Mimosa Pudica, by Curt Dempster. First step would be rereading the thing, because it's entirely possible that my tastes have changed. Drastically. But this is my first mental in-road to the possibility of directing more.
  • Writing a show called . . . wait for it . . . The Project Project. This may be the stupidest idea I've ever had, but I'm particularly ticklish to it. The idea would be to write a play based on my experiences trying to collaborate to create a play. The idea is a comedy, for now, and would somehow revolve around the action of making a show from scratch, from beginning to end. I recognize this may be a completely Freudian impulse (no, not that kind)--trying to exert control over something inherently uncontrollable (oh...okay: that kind).

I Took a Quiz:

This, apparently, is the Norse god I best resemble. I'm a little embarassed not to be Odin, what with the title of my 'blog and everything, but sort of thrilled with this result all the same. And if I needed further comfort, I can always console myself in the knowledge that Loki's counterpart in many Native American cultures is the trickster Raven.
You scored as Loki.





























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